The Ottawa Senators have acquired a top-performing player, off the ice, anyway, with the hiring of Jacqueline Belsito as president of the club’s new charitable foundation.
The Ottawa-born-and-raised professional fundraiser officially starts her new job with the Senators Community Foundation on Nov. 21.
Belsito brings to the organization a decade of experience with the CHEO Foundation, where she helped to raise millions for the purchase of new equipment and for medical research and family support programs for the young patients of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
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“It really is that classic case of right time, right place, right fit,” said Belsito of her new leadership role.
Belsito was contacted by executive search firm Keynote Search co-founder and partner Donna Baker to apply for the position. She will be tasked with relaunching the foundation and fulfilling its mission of improving the lives of children and youth in Eastern Ontario and western Quebec through community investments and programs.
“This opportunity to make a difference was too exciting for me to pass up,” said Belsito, who was sorry to leave the CHEO Foundation, where she worked as vice-president of philanthropy.
“My time at CHEO has been nothing but rewarding. I fell in love with the cause and the people who work there.”
She was particularly attached to the kids, their families and the front-line staff at both the children’s hospital and the pediatric palliative care facility Roger Neilson House.
“They impacted me, made me a better person and have definitely made me a better leader.”
She said she learned so much from the young patients whom she met over the years and “the way they dealt with the cards that were given to them. It was really remarkable, their positivity, their perseverance. It really grounds you when you work at a palliative care centre or children’s hospital. It really puts a lot of things in perspective.”
Belsito will be tasked with the job of building the Senators Community Foundation from the ground up, overseeing its full operations and acting as a key liaison between the leadership at the club level, players, alumni, donors, sponsors, stakeholders and partners.
She will work closely with a board of directors and the Ottawa Senators senior leadership team, including executive vice-president and CFO Erin Crowe; Anthony LeBlanc, president of business operations; and Tom Hoof, vice-president of marketing and game entertainment.
“To be part of that winning team, on and off the ice, is so exciting,” she said.
Particularly attractive to Belsito was the way the organization’s values align with her own.
“There’s a chemistry and culture there that really spoke to me,” said Belsito. “Right from the first conversation, I felt valued for the expertise that I could bring to the table and felt that we could accomplish great things together.”
Belsito said she’s also really looking forward to continuing “to lift up children and youth in our community.”
What a lot of people don’t know about Belsito is that sports played a big role in keeping her on the right path when she was a potentially at-risk youth.
“I would say one of the best pieces of advice that I got as a young teen was to stay in sports,” said Belsito, who excelled in volleyball and basketball. “Sport taught me the value of hard work and sportsmanship and teamwork – all those core skills that, frankly, I continue to integrate into my life today.”
Belsito is a graduate of Algonquin College’s business management and marketing program. Prior to joining the CHEO Foundation in 2012, she worked as director of marketing and advertising at software company Cognos, vice-president with fundraising firm KCI (Ketchum Canada), and director of marketing and fundraising for Rowing Canada Aviron.
With the announcement of Belsito as new president, things are finally looking up for the charitable arm of the Ottawa Senators, which saw its former foundation break ties with the team in 2020. Its replacement organization, it seemed, never really got off the ground.
This past March, owner Eugene Melnyk passed away due to illness, leaving the team to his daughters.
The chairman and governor of the Ottawa Senators has confirmed a process has begun to put the team up for sale. Said Belsito: “Whether the team is up for sale or not up for sale, I would say it doesn’t change the value that the foundation can add to the organization, and it doesn’t diminish its ability to galvanize a community around the Senators.”
ON THE MOVE ACROSS OTTAWA
Anick Losier has joined CHEO as its new chief branding and communications officer. Losier spent the past six years with CMA (Canadian Medical Association) Media, most recently in the role of vice-president. She’s also held media relations and communications roles with Canada Post and the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Her volunteer work has included Institut du Savoir Montfort, Dovercourt Recreation Association and Ottawa Race Weekend.
Chad Schella has joined CIBC as its associate vice-president of government relations. Schella, who’s a member of the board of directors at the Queensway Carleton Hospital, worked for more than 10 years at Canada Post, most recently as its general manager of government and community affairs. Prior to that, he worked for the Ottawa Senators and its foundation.
Scott Bradley has joined Waterloo-based tech company OpenText as director of global government relations. He will continue to be based in Ottawa. Bradley spent the past couple of years working with BDO Canada, helping to establish its ESG practice, pulling together the work the firm is doing across Canada with its Indigenous clients and partners, and amplifying its position as a leader in advisory and technology services within the federal government.
Katrina Barclay has become the new executive manager of the Family Enterprise Legacy Institute at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa. The former Forty Under 40 Award recipient first joined FELI a year ago as its communications and liaison manager.
Another Forty Under 40 Award recipient, Michael Williams, has been promoted to managing parter of the Ottawa office of executive search and recruitment firm Odgers Berndtson. Williams has been a partner at the firm since 2017.
Business development specialist Erin Binks has set off on a new career path with ergonomic and sustainable office furniture brand Humanscale. She’s now its senior account development representative.
The late Marc Jolicoeur was posthumously presented with a 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award at a recent Ottawa awards ceremony, the VOscars, hosted by Volunteer Ottawa. Jolicoeur, a former managing partner at BLG, served as a volunteer for numerous charitable organizations, including as a board and/or committee member with the University of Ottawa, United Way Canada, United Way Ottawa and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Jolicoeur, 68, died in February from the deadly brain cancer glioblastoma.
Also at the VOscars, the Ottawa Community Housing Corporation’s Volunteer Engagement Program was selected as the winner in the Outstanding Volunteer Program category. Its program, created in 2011, has seen its volunteers complete 42 projects and donate nearly 35,000 hours to help enhance OCH neighbourhoods.
Helen MacMillan, the general manager of Ottawa’s Rideau Carleton Casino/Future Hard Rock Casino Ottawa, has been named as a 2022 recipient of the Patricia Becker Pay It Forward Award on behalf of Global Gaming Women (GGW). The award honours women who have demonstrated a commitment to the development and advancement of women in gaming, as well as in their community in general.